Rhode Island asks for split of PawSox naming rights, team threatens to leave town again

As Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello suggested back in October, the state legislature is revising its proposal for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium to cut down on the $38 million in taxpayer subsidies that were in the initial plan. The new provisions:

  • The team would split naming-rights revenue 50-50 with the city, instead of keeping it all itself.
  • The amount of stadium bonds would be increased from $71 million to $85 million (since the initial bond estimate failed to take into account things like paying the bond lawyers), with the team now paying off $41 million and the city and state $44 million.

This doesn’t exactly sound like a worse deal for the team — the extra $6 million in public cost would almost eat up any of the new naming-rights money at the going rates for such things — but I guess the PawSox owners were counting on the public getting stuck with all of those bond financing costs, because they declared themselves “concerned” over the new provisions:

The PawSox, with the overwhelming majority contribution of $45 million, the commitment of 30 years, and the responsibility of ballpark construction cost overruns, are taking the most significant and likely risks to ensure that this once-in-a-generation project comes to fruition for Rhode Island.

We hope we can keep the PawSox in Pawtucket, and we have offered unprecedented private funds to do so.

I am so trying this move the next time I engage in salary negotiations: “I’m taking the most significant risk here! I hope to remain with this company, and I am making an unprecedented offer to do so! Now, can I have $44 million, please?”

In very related news, the Worcester Business Journal interviewed a bunch of stadium experts (including me) about how much Worcester should offer to put up to lure the PawSox to that town, and came up with the conclusion “not much.” (Holy Cross economist Victor Matheson, who is pictured in a lovely photo tossing a baseball in the air, figured $5-10 million was a reasonable maximum.) The best line, though, goes to University of New Haven business professor Gil Fried, who after noting that the economic impact of a stadium is about the same as that of a Walmart, had this to say about stadium economic impact studies:

An economic study conducted for Pawtucket and the PawSox found a proposed $76-million stadium would pay for itself through new revenue…

Those studies – often paid for by officials wanting to justify building a stadium – have their detractors.

“Those things are a piece of junk,” said Fried.

You said it, pal.

Friday roundup: CFL in Halifax, Columbus ghost stadium, Sydney is the new Atlanta, and more!

Are any of my American readers even out there, or are you all too busy tormenting retail workers with your demands for discounted goods? If so, you’re missing out, because we’ve got all your goods right here, at our everyday discount of free!

  • The CFL is considering expanding to Halifax, which means Halifax would need a CFL stadium, which means somebody would have to pay for a Halifax CFL stadium. Halifax Mayor Mike Savage says a stadium is “not a capital priority at this time” and would have to be built “without putting taxpayers at risk.” The Ottawa RedBlacks stadium model is being floated, which is slightly weird because that ended up costing taxpayers a bundle of money plus free land, but maybe “taxpayer risk” is defined differently in Halifax. Anyway, we’ve been this far before, so grains of salt apply.
  • Remember how I wasn’t sure what would be included in the $75 million in public “infrastructure” spending that F.C. Cincinnati is demanding? Turns out that’s because nobody’s sure: WCPO notes that the team hasn’t provided any cost estimates or a traffic study, which “leaves us wondering where, exactly, FC Cincinnati came up with its figures.” I’ll take “nice round number, slightly less than the $100 million elected officials balked at previously” in the pool, please.
  • A guy in Columbus came up with an idea to use county sales tax money to build a new stadium to keep the Crew in town, then the next day said it was just an idea he came up with over the weekend by himself and never mind.
  • The city of Worcester is still trying to lure the Pawtucket Red Sox to town, and the state of Massachusetts may be getting involved, with one unnamed source telling the Worcester Telegram that stadium funding would need to be a “a three-legged stool” among the city, state, and team. You know this article is just going to be waved around in the Rhode Island legislature as it heads toward a vote on public funding for a PawSox stadium there, and what was everyone just saying about the role of enablers in abuse, again? (Not that stadium swindles are morally equivalent to sexual harassment, obviously, but you get my point. Also, why are all the articles about the role of enablers in sexual harassment a month old, are we not going to pay attention to that after all?)
  • The state of Connecticut may spend $40 million on upgrades to Hartford’s arena and some retail properties near its entrance, on the grounds that it might make it more attractive to buyers. If this seems like getting it backwards to you, yeah, me too, but at least it’s better than spending $250 million on the arena and then not selling it.
  • Laney College students, faculty, and staff all hate the idea of an Oakland A’s stadium on their campus. “They want to disrupt our education by building a ballpark across the street with noisy construction, traffic gridlock, pollution, and alcohol consumption by fans,” Associated Students of Laney College President Keith Welch told KCBS-TV. “We will not sacrifice our education so that the A’s owners can make more money.” Pretty sure they won’t get a vote, though.
  • “Industry experts” say that the new Milwaukee Bucks arena will charge more for concert tickets because … it’ll draw bigger-name acts that cost more, I think they’re saying? That doesn’t actually seem like a detriment, though they also note that the new arena has a higher percentage of seats in the lower bowl, which people will pay more for even if they’re way in the back of the lower bowl, and helps explains why arena and stadium designers are so obsessed with getting as many lower-deck seats as possible even if it makes for crappier upper-deck seats. Which we kind of knew already, but a reminder always helps.
  • And move over, Atlanta, there’s a new planned stadium obsolescence king in town: The state of New South Wales is planning to spend $2 billion Australian (about $1.5 billion U.S.) to tear down the Sydney stadium it built for the 2000 Olympics, along with another smaller stadium in Sydney built in 1988, in order to build newer ones that are more ideally shaped for rugby, I think? Because nobody thought of that in 2000? I need to wait for my Australian rugby correspondent to return from holiday break for a more authoritative analysis, but right now this is looking like one of the worst throw-good-money-after-bad deals in stadium history, and it’s not even in America, the land that has perfected the stadium swindle. Crikey!

Worcester hires Rhode Island consultant Zimbalist to help lure PawSox from Rhode Island

Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty has been vocal about wanting to lure the Pawtucket Red Sox to his city if they can’t get a new stadium paid for in their current home, though he’s been noncommittal on the whole “paying to build a stadium thing.” He’s putting at least some money where his mouth is now, though, hiring two consultants to help in his efforts, and look who one of them is:

Economist Andrew Zimbalist and former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Jeffrey Mullan have been hired by City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. as consultants for the city’s discussions with the Pawtucket Red Sox over that team’s possible relocation here and construction of a new ballpark in the Canal District.

That’s right, it’s Andy Zimbalist, co-author of one of the best books ever on stadium economics, who has become known for saying that public sports venue funding is a waste of money except for when he’s on payroll to say otherwise. Zimbalist has developed a lucrative ($225 an hour, according to one report) sideline in consulting on these deals, to the point where he once recycled an old report by crossing out “Anaheim” and writing in “Seattle” and then reversing his conclusions; his recent gigs include working for — hey, hang on:

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has hired Andrew Zimbalist, a professor in the Department of Economics at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., as a $225-an-hour consultant for the House of Representatives on the proposed relocation of the PawSox from Pawtucket to Providence.

I mean, I guess maybe this isn’t a conflict, if Zimbalist is just helping both Rhode Island and Worcester figure out whether spending money on a PawSox stadium would be worth it, not actively trying to work on their behalf to land the team? Maybe he explained exactly what he was hired to do for Worcester?

Asked about his role in the city’s bid for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Zimbalist replied, “I can’t talk about it.”

If anyone would like to help crowdfund $225 so I can hire Zimbalist for an hour to explain what’s going on here, you know where to find me.

RI house speaker: PawSox deal sucks, let’s negotiate a better one

Opposition to the Pawtucket Red Sox‘ $38 million stadium subsidy request is starting to snowball: First the chair of the state senate finance committee said he’d kill the bill if the PawSox owners didn’t provide more details on their team finances, and now House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says he wants the team to go back to the drawing board entirely, because his constituents hate stadium subsidies:

Mattiello, a Cranston Democrat, told The Providence Journal in a podcast posted Friday that he’s been knocking on doors in his district and the overwhelming majority of people are telling him “no public money” for the project. The cost of the $83 million deal lawmakers are considering shares the costs among the state, Pawtucket and the team, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

“What I’m hearing right now is, the public is not necessarily buying in to the proposition of putting public money, or a large amount of public money, into this project. So I think it’s incumbent upon the governor and the Commerce Corp. to listen to what I’m saying,” he said, adding, “I think the governor and the PawSox and the Commerce Corp. should roll up their sleeves, renegotiate this thing.”

Mattiello wasn’t specific about how much more he’d like to see the PawSox owners put in (other than “perhaps a lot of the backstop should come from the PawSox and the owners of the PawSox and take the risk away from the taxpayers”), but clearly there is sentiment in the state legislature that the current deal kinda sucks — which, when the state could just buy the team for less than the public cost of a new stadium, it kinda does. Rattling the Worcester saber just doesn’t work the way it used to, I guess.

Friday roundup: New soccer stadiums, yet another Vegas arena, Falcons roof still not done

Happy fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, everybody! While you get ready to go to your anniversary parties and dress up as, um, hurricanes, and you know what, this riff isn’t going anywhere, let’s get to the news:

  • Had you forgotten about former UNLV basketball star Jackie Robinson’s $1.4 billion retractable-roofed-arena-plus-hotel-plus-other-stuff project just because Las Vegas already has one new arena, he hasn’t — and now says it’s a $2.7 billion project that will include a 63-story hotel, a conference center, a 24-lane bowling alley, and a wedding chapel. No construction has begun yet, but Robinson says it will all be completed by 2020, or else maybe by then it will cost $5.2 billion and include a space elevator.
  • Chris Hansen is trying a new gambit to turn attention away from Oak View Group’s KeyArena renovation plan and toward his SoDo new-arena plan, and it involves declaring the OVG plan a “public” and not a “private” process, which would require a longer environmental review process, and if your eyes are glazing over already I don’t blame you, skip to the next item, it’s got juicy if unproven allegations of political corruption in it.
  • New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon has given Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017 re-election campaign a $65,000 donation that’s twice as large as all other donations he’s previously given the governor combined, and with Wilpon in the midst of looking to get approval from the state for a new soccer stadium Islanders arena (sorry, had a brain fart on this one while typing) next to Belmont Park racetrack … well, you connect the dots. (Or don’t: An Empire State Development spokesperson snapped, “Participation in the political process has zero bearing on any of this and any of these ‘sources’ with questions are free to contact us instead of trafficking in conspiracy theories.”) Bigger question: Fred Wilpon has $65,000 to spare?
  • The Atlanta Falcons‘ retractable roof is now set to finally work by March 2018. Probably.
  • Nashville held a hearing on its proposed $75 million soccer stadium subsidy deal, and if you guessed that a self-proclaimed soccer mom said it would be a “feather in our cap” while a non-soccer-fan local resident said “you’re asking me to help fund a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar project for another sports team that most likely will not benefit me,” then you’re right on the money.
  • The prospective NASL team San Diego 1904 F.C. is planning a stadium that will cost only $15 million because it will be built modularly elsewhere and shipped to the stadium site in Oceanside, but at least they didn’t skimp on the searchlight renderings.
  • The chair of Rhode Island’s senate finance committee says he’ll put a halt to the Pawtucket Red Sox‘ $38 million stadium subsidy request if the team owners don’t provide more financial information. It sounds like this is over the team’s internal finances, and could be resolved with a non-disclosure agreement, but still, it’s something to keep an eye on, since projects have succeeded or fallen over pettier things.
  • Louisville approved $30 million in bonds to help pay for a new Louisville City F.C. soccer stadium, in exchange for which the team will repay $14.5 million over 10 years, which comes to about $11 million in present value, so the city will only lose $19 million on the deal, unless there’s still plans for as much as $35 million in state property-tax kickbacks via a TIF, in which case this is really a $54 million subsidy for a minor-league soccer stadium. Maybe they should go with one of those modular dealies instead? Just a thought.

PawSox asking for $38m subsidy for team only worth $11m

The owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox are asking the city of Pawtucket and state of Rhode Island for $38 million in public money so they can build a new stadium to replace historic, 4.5-star-Yelp-rated McCoy Stadium, which means they need to explain why they can’t just build the damn thing themselves. As part of that mission, the team gave the state senate figures on Wednesday showing that they have net equity in the team of $11.2 million:

The current PawSox owners have never disclosed how much they paid the Mondor family to buy the team in 2015, but The Boston Globe has reported the price was more than $20 million.

“We are a small, stable, but declining business,” PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino and Vice Chairman Mike Tamburro wrote in a letter to the committee. “Nonetheless, in our opinion, the business is unsustainable over time if we continue operating at McCoy Stadium and declining trends continue.”

This is one of the core strategies in the stadium playbook, of course: Crying poor and insisting that the only way forward to profitability is to receive taxpayer cash. Which sort of makes sense, until you think about it and realize two things:

  • This is pretty much saying that the goal of a new stadium is to use public funds to put more money in the pockets of a private business, which, while certainly true — it’s our book’s subhead, after all — is maybe not the best argument here.
  • If you’re asking for $38 million for a team that’s only worth $11 million — or, to be generous, $20 million if you figure the sale price is a better representation of the team value than just net assets on hand — maybe it’d be cheaper for Pawtucket just to buy the damn team and forget this stadium nonsense, huh?

And while we’re on dubious arguments, the Pawtucket Foundation, a pro-development business group that strongly backs a new stadium, hired University of Michigan economist Mark Rosentraub to study the project’s revenue potential, and he determined it would generate enough revenue for both the team and the public “to enjoy positive returns on their investments.”

Reading the actual study shows the math behind Rosentraub’s conclusions, which is not exactly robust: He assumes that the team would leave without a new stadium, and then attributes all income and sales taxes paid at the stadium to the team’s presence, even though the substitution effect means that much of that money would be collected even if the PawSox relocated, as Rhode Islanders would spend their entertainment dollars on something else. (Rosentraub indicates his calculation assumes that all PawSox fans would just drive to Worcester to see games, which, uh, sure.) Plus, he counts money from tax revenues generated by additional development the team would build around the ballpark, but doesn’t indicate whether that would soak up housing demand that would otherwise lead to construction elsewhere in the state, or if the housing could just be built without the stadium (or the stadium subsidies) anyway, and … you get the idea.

Rosentraub is an inneresting character, as Neil Young would say: He wrote a book on the ill effects of stadium subsidies shortly before Joanna Cagan and I started working on Field of Schemes, but has since then carved out a lucrative career as a consultant who’ll say nice things about your stadium project for the right price. His change of heart, according to the Providence Journal, was prompted not by his own paychecks but by the realization that “demographic changes have drained cities of people and new tax-generating opportunities,” which, uh, Mark? The Great Inversion? Millennials? Any of this ring a bell?

Friday roundup: A’s pollution woes, Falcons roof woes, Hansen email woes, and more!

Whole lot of news leftovers this week, so let’s get right to it:

  • It’s not certain yet how serious the environmental cleanup issues at the Oakland A’s proposed Peralta Community College stadium site are, but anytime you have the phrases “the amount of hazardous materials in the ground is unclear” and “two possible groundwater plumes impacted by carcinogens” in one article, that’s not a good sign. Meanwhile, local residents are concerned about gentrification and traffic and all the other things that local residents would be concerned about.
  • There’s another new poll in Calgary, and this time it’s Naheed Nenshi who’s leading Bill Smith by double digits, instead of the other way around. This poll’s methodology is even dodgier than the last one — it was of people who signed up for an online survey — so pretty much all we can say definitely at this point is no one knows. Though it does seem pretty clear from yet another poll that whoever Calgarians are voting for on Monday, it won’t be because of their position on a Flames arena.
  • The Atlanta Falcons‘ retractable roof won’t be retracting this season, and may even not be ready for the start of next season. These things are hard, man.
  • Nevada is preparing to sell $200 million in bonds (to be repaid by a state gas tax) to fund highway improvements for the new Las Vegas Raiders stadium, though Gov. Brian Sandoval says the state would have to make the improvements anyway. Eventually. But then he said, “I just don’t want us to do work that has to be undone,” so your guess is as good as mine here.
  • Pawtucket is preparing to scrape off future increases in property tax receipts for a 60- to 70-acre swath of downtown and hand them over to the Pawtucket Red Sox for a new stadium, an amount they expect to total at least $890,000 a year. Because downtown Pawtucket would never grow without a new baseball stadium, and there’s no chance of a shortfall that would cause Pawtucket to dip into its general fund, and nobody should think too hard about whether if minor-league baseball stadiums are really so great for development, this wouldn’t mean that property tax revenues should be expected to fall in the part of the city that the PawSox would be abandoning. Really, it’ll all be cool, man, you’ll see.
  • Somebody asked Tim Leiweke what he thinks of building a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays for some reason, and given that he’s a guy that is in the business of building new stadiums, it’s unsurprising that he thinks it’s a great idea. Though I am somewhat surprised that he employed the phrase “Every snowbird in Canada will want to watch the Toronto Blue Jays when they come and play,” given that having to depend on fans of road teams to fill the seats is already kind of a problem.
  • The study showing that spending $30 million in city money on a $30-million-or-so Louisville City F.C. stadium would pay off for the city turns out to have been funded by the soccer team, and city councilmembers are not happy. “There’s something there that someone doesn’t want us to find,” said councilmember Kevin Kramer. “I just don’t know what it is.” And College of the Holy Cross economics professor Victor Matheson chimed in, “I expect for-profit sports team owners to generate absurdly high economic estimate numbers in order to con gullible city council members into granting subsidies.” I don’t know where you could possibly be getting that idea, Victor!
  • Congress is considering a bill to eliminate the use of federally tax-exempt bonds for sports facilities, and … oh, wait, it’s the same bill that Cory Booker and James Lankford introduced back in June, and which hasn’t gotten a committee hearing yet in either the House or the Senate. It has four sponsors in the House, though, and two in the Senate, so only 263 more votes to go!
  • A Miami-Dade judge has dismissed a lawsuit charging that the sale of public land to David Beckham’s MLS franchise illegally evaded competitive bidding laws, then immediately suggested that the case will really be decided on appeal: “I found this to be an extremely challenging decision. Brighter minds than me will tell me whether I was right or wrong.” MLS maybe should be having backup plans for a different expansion franchise starting next season, just a thought.
  • The New York Times real estate section is doing what it does best, declaring the new Milwaukee Bucks arena to be “a pivotal point for a city that has struggled with a decline in industrial activity,” because cranes, dammit, okay? Maybe somebody should have called over to the Times sports section to fact-check this?
  • And last but not least, Chris Hansen is now saying that his SoDo arena plan missed a chance at reconsideration by the Seattle city council because the council’s emails requesting additional information got caught in his spam filter or something. If that’s not a sign that it’s time to knock off for the weekend, I don’t know what is.

This week in boondoggle vivisection: Plenty of good seats available in SF, Cleveland, Ottawa

We’ll get to the weekly news roundup in a minute, but first, I need to mention this editorial from yesterday’s Globe and Mail, which makes several eminently reasonable points about how Calgary shouldn’t capitulate to the Flames owners’ extortion attempts for arena cash (“using past bad decisions to justify terrible future decisions does not qualify as logic,” “arena financing is a hamster wheel, and here is an opportunity to jump off”), and then says this:

Everyone involved should take note of a remark this week by Neil deMause, renowned stadium boondoggle vivisectionist and creator of the fieldofschemes.com website: “The number of mayors who’ve been voted out of office for standing up to sports team subsidy demands remains zero.”

That’s right, I am a major-newspaper-certified renowned boondoggle vivisectionist, y’all. Clearly it’s time to order some new business cards.

Okay, the rest of the week’s news:

  • The Los Angeles Rams aren’t the only California team having trouble getting fans to turn out for games in the September heat: The San Francisco 49ers are seeing so many empty seats on the sunny side of their stadium that they’ve hired architects to see if it’d be possible to add a sun shade. One problem: The stadium can’t get any taller, as it’s in the flight path of San Jose’s airport. Until then, the 49ers are handing out free water bottles and sunscreen to fans on the hot side of the stadium, which is nice and all, but probably isn’t what you want for your big marketing push. This once again points up how smart the 49ers management was to stick fans with PSLs before the team got lousy and people noticed how crappy the new stadium was for actually watching football in.
  • And speaking of empty seats, the Cleveland Indians won their American League–record 22nd straight game yesterday, but they still can’t sell out their ballpark, which not that long ago saw a record sellout streak of 455 straight games. Indians GM Mike Chernoff blamed Cleveland’s small size, the start of the school year, and “weekdays,” three things that apparently didn’t exist in the ’90s. At least he didn’t blame the 23-year-old stadium or demand upgrades as a solution — yet, anyway.
  • And also speaking of empty seats, the Ottawa Senators have begun tarping over part of their upper deck for every game, because they can’t sell tickets there. The Senators owner is already blaming his 21-year-old arena for that one (apparently the last owner built it in the wrong place), so team president Tom Anselmi was left to say: “We just need more of us to come to more games more often.” Can’t argue with that!
  • And also also speaking of empty seats, the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics have only sold about 5% of available tickets so far to actual fans (ticket brokers have bought up another 18%), with less than five months to go before the games start. If you’re looking to snap up a bargain to watch curling, though, be forewarned: Not all the new hotels planned for the Olympics are finished yet.
  • And speaking of seats that a team hopes won’t be empty, the Oakland A’s will be letting in fans for free to a game next April against the White Sox. Make jokes all you want about how dismal an A’s-White Sox matchup will be, it’s still free baseball, and you never know what you might see that you’ve never seen before.
  • NHL commissioner Gary Bettman declared that that the scaled-down Nassau Coliseum is “not a viable option” for the New York Islanders, two weeks before the team is set to present plans to Nassau County for a new arena near Belmont Park. A total coincidence, I’m sure.
  • The Rhode Island state senate started hearings on a new Pawtucket Red Sox proposal yesterday, with the team owners and their allies noting that “the team’s 54-percent share of stadium costs is the highest portion of private investment in 14 AA and AAA ballparks built over the last decade,” according to the Providence Journal. What was that someone was just saying about using bad decisions to justify terrible future decisions?
  • Deadspin’s Drew Magary has come up with a new nickname for the Atlanta Falcons‘ new iris-roofed stadium: Megatron’s Butthole. Drew Magary needs to be put in charge of all stadium nicknames, starting immediately.

Friday roundup: Everybody still has lots of dumb stadium ideas, sun keeps rising in east

And aside from the Cleveland Cavaliers arena subsidy returning from the dead, Mrs. Lincoln, here’s how some of the rest of the week in stadium and arena news went:

  • Chicago is looking at closing some streets to accommodate DePaul University’s new city-subsidized basketball arena, because of course they are.
  • The new arena for the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons will have a Kid Rock-themed restaurant, because of course it will.
  • San Diego mayor Kevin Falconer wants to build a professional lacrosse stadium, even though the owners of the city’s newly created lacrosse franchise say they don’t need one, because of course he does.
  • Rhode Island state senate president Dominick Ruggerio says he hopes the state legislature will vote on $38 million in public funding for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium in November, despite not believing the team has a viable threat to move to Worcester if it doesn’t get what it wants, because “You know what, we’ll get criticized for anything.” And you know, he’s got a point: No matter what elected officials do, there’s somebody somewhere who won’t like it, so might as well do whatever they want, right?
  • The Las Vegas Raiders’ stadium construction could be delayed because nobody realized until now that they needed Army Corps of Engineers approval to remove a flood culvert. (The Raiders have agreed to pay the $1 million cost, at least.)
  • Dave Zirin at The Nation has examined how Joel Osteen’s dithering over whether to let Hurricane Harvey evacuees into his megachurch has its roots in the Houston subsidy deal that turned the Rockets‘ old arena into the church in the first place, and I put in a cameo to note that while littering the landscape with redundant current and former sports venues is one way to create a lot of hurricane shelters, it’s probably not a very cost-effective one.
  • Wells Fargo released a report that “real stadium construction spending” on new sports facilities has “climbed 80 percent over the past five years” to $10 billion per … something. And are they counting money committed, or actual construction money spent, and does this count both private and public funds? I guess we should cut Wells Fargo some slack, they have a lot on their minds these days.

Worcester mayor: Do whatever it takes to land PawSox (but this doesn’t mean, like, subsidies)

The sports move-threat game requires two elements, or really three: 1) a league with monopoly control over franchises, so that losing a team means it’d be tough to recruit a replacement; 2) a semi-viable city to threaten to move to; and 3) city officials there willing to start a bidding war for your team. The first is easily met by most North American sports leagues, the second for most minor leagues (since the bar for “semi-viable” is so much lower), and the last, in the case of the Pawtucker Red Sox, has a willing volunteer in Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, because man, just listen to this guy:

“The City Council does hereby support in principle the relocation of the Red Sox Triple A baseball team to Worcester including building a stadium to accommodate this team and further, request the City Manager do all that is reasonably in his power to facilitate this move,” Mr. Petty wrote in a proposed resolution the council will take up Aug. 15.

In an interview Monday night, Mr. Petty said the resolution is meant to show the Red Sox Triple A affiliate that the city and its people are enthusiastic about professional baseball returning to the city.

“We have a chance to get them here, and we just want to convince them Worcester is the place to be,” Mr. Petty said.

“All that is reasonably in his power”! Does that include “fire and fury“?

The mayor said the statement is not meant to imply financial backing for a stadium from the city. He said any discussion of funding or stadium location would be premature since the two sides have not even commenced negotiations.

Of course not! “Including building a stadium” would never imply spending public money to build a stadium, because that would just be silly! Besides, the mayor was directly asked about public money and responded with this firm statement:

“We’re not going to negotiate in the press,” Mr. Petty said when asked whether he supported the idea of public dollars going toward a deal.

It’s unclear whether the city council will go along with Mayor Petty’s proposal — one councilor, Konstantina B. Lukes, told the Worcester Telegram she was worried not only by the blank-check nature of the resolution but that “we may be the bride left at the altar after we’ve been courted,” which is a perfectly cromulent fear. But man, is Petty ever going for Cartoon Blowhard Mayor of the Year. I don’t know when Joe Quimby is up for reelection, but he could face a tough challenger here.